As a Springfield kids’ dentist, the team at McKenzie River Dental understands the importance of ensuring every child enjoys a healthy, great-looking smile. For kids to enjoy the best oral health possible, Dr. Schilt recommends that parents start providing optimal dental care from an early age.
Unfortunately, untreated tooth decay and cavities ranks as one of the most common oral health issues faced by kids in the U.S. When these conditions progress, they can cause children a variety of unwanted issues. From pain caused by cavities to missing school due to receiving dental care, poor oral health can lead to a lot of unnecessary problems for kids.
As a Springfield kids’ dentist, Dr. Schilt sees too many parents ignore cavities in baby teeth. Parents mistakenly believe that since baby teeth eventually fall out the development of cavities doesn’t really matter. However, cavities in baby teeth can impact permanent teeth and lead to the development of future oral health problems. To prevent the development of cavities, parents need to start practicing quality oral hygiene habits with their kids from a young age.
Let’s take a look at what parents need to consider regarding the oral care of their kids.
Infant Oral Care
Babies can develop a type of tooth decay referred to as childhood carries. This typically occurs when kids are allowed to sleep immediately after feeding on anything other than water. The sugars found in breast milk, formula milk, regular milk, and especially in fruit juice can pool around a child’s teeth and feed the bacteria that lead to the development of decay.
To combat this issue, parents need to start practicing oral hygiene with their kids from birth. Until about 12 months old, parents should gently wipe their baby’s gum with a clean, soft washcloth. When a child’s first tooth develops, clean the surface to the tooth using only a baby toothbrush and water.
For kids between the ages of 12 to 24 months, parents should use a child-size toothbrush and just a thin layer of fluoridated toothpaste. The ADA recommends brushing your child’s teeth twice a day, once after breakfast and again before bed.
Toddler Oral Care
Starting at the age of three, parents can start using a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste when brushing their child’s teeth. Dr. Schilt encourages parents to teach their kids not to swallow while brushing. Swallowing too much fluoride can permanently stain a child’s permanent teeth.
While the best way for parents to protect their child’s oral health is to teach them good dental habits, trying to get a toddler invested in their oral health is a tough sell. Even if your child proves enthusiastic about brushing, they probable still don’t possess the attention to detail and control necessary to properly brush and floss.
Dr. Schilt recommends that parents continue to brush their child’s teeth until they’re old enough to tie their own shoes. At this point a child will now possess the manual dexterity required to properly brush and floss, even if the required attention to perform that tasks properly may have yet to develop.
Child Oral Care
Even after your child has the ability to properly use a toothbrush, you’ll still need to supervise their daily brushing and flossing to ensure they do a quality job.
Brushing with an appropriate size brush to their age, your child should use a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste to brush all surfaces of their teeth. Brushing needs to be done in a circular motion or using a short back and forth motion on all surfaces of the child’s teeth. The time taken to brush should be at least two minutes.
Parents should also change their child’s toothbrush once every 3 months, or once the bristles of the brush start to become frayed.
Flossing is also an important part of protecting your child’s oral health. Parents need to take the time to teach their kids about the importance of flossing and how to correctly perform the habit.
Your Springfield Kids’ Dentist is Here to Help
Providing your child with the foundation needed to enjoy a health, great-looking smile requires parents to start focusing on quality oral hygiene for their kids starting a young age. If you have any questions about the best practices for ensuring your child enjoys the best oral health possible, we encourage you to ask Dr. Schilt during your next appointment at McKenzie River Dental.